What You Admire Is What You’re Becoming

It is one of the most fundamental dynamics of our lives: We are always becoming like what we most adore. And yet when we look at ourselves, what we adore so often fluctuates in intensity all throughout the day, and yet, in Christ, we are progressing toward maturity in him. John Piper explains how all this dynamic works together from 2 Corinthians 3:18 in a recent sermon. Here’s what he said. John Piper: This is so variable, I am tempted to say it is just incalculably variable; meaning, the morning and the mid-morning and noon and the afternoon and the night are all different. Your heart for God is different at 10:00 a.m., and noon, and 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. It is different. Your emotions are just like this. Nobody lives like this. Nobody. And from week to week and month to month and year to year — and saints are allowed to move into seasons of great darkness,

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The Danger of Drifting Away

John Piper: Seventeen Aspects of Holy Dissatisfaction One mark of Christian authenticity is discontentment with anything less than “all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Coasting is not discipleship. Drifting in self-contentment is not like basking in the pool of security, but like floating, fast asleep, toward the falls. “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). There is a holy discontentment. It is not a nail-biting uncertainty about our standing with God. It is the increased appetite of those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2–3). It is the pursuit of those who have been pursued and captured by the strong arms of love. “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).

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The Goal of Missions May Not Be What You Think

Chase Bowers & Scott Zeller: What happened on January 2, 1998, altered the course of my (Chase’s) life. Along with thousands of other college students, I attended the second Passion conference, which was then a new series of gatherings seeking to raise a banner for God’s glory. I heard John Piper preach for the first time, and what he communicated about God’s heart for the nations—specifically the idea that he was gathering for his fame a people from among all peoples—was paradigm-shifting for me. Afterward I began digging into Piper’s now-classic book on missions, Let the Nations Be Glad (Baker). It opens with groundshaking words: Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. This paragraph profoundly changed what

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Your Sin Is Not What You Think

This is an adapted excerpt from John Piper’s book Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power (The Good Book Company, 2016), posted at The Gospel Coalition. The human heart hates a vacuum. We never merely leave God because we value him little; we always exchange God for what we value more. We see this in Romans 1:22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They became fools. This is the ultimate foolishness. This is the most foundational meaning of sin: exchanging the glory of the immortal God for substitutes—anything we value more than God. We look at the Creator and then exchange him for something he created. My Definition of Sin Underneath all the misuses of money, sex, and power is this sinful heart-condition—this depravity. My definition of sin is this: any feeling or thought or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all

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Truer Knowledge Brings Greater Joy

And all the people went their way . . . to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:12) John Piper: The only joy that reflects the worth of God and overflows in God-glorifying love is rooted in the true knowledge of God. And to the degree that our knowledge is small or flawed, our joy will be a poor echo of God’s true excellence. The experience of Israel in Nehemiah 8:12 is a paradigm of how God-glorifying joy happens in the heart. Ezra had read the word of God to them and the Levites had explained it. And then the people went away “to make great rejoicing.” Their great rejoicing was because they had understood words. Most of us have tasted this experience of the heart burning with joy when the word of God was opened to us (Luke 24:32). Twice Jesus said that he taught his disciples for the sake

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Complete Assurance for Incomplete People

John Piper: By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14) Two things here are mightily encouraging for us in our imperfect condition as saved sinners. First, notice that Christ has perfected his people, and it is already complete. “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” He has done it. And he has done it for all time. The perfecting of his people is complete and it is complete forever. Does this mean that Christians don’t sin? Don’t get sick? Don’t make mathematical errors in school? That we are already perfect in our behavior and attitudes? There is one clear reason in this very verse for knowing that is not the case. What is it? It’s the last phrase. Who are the people that have been perfected for all time? It is those who “are being sanctified.” The ongoing continuous action of the Greek present

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A Peculiar Glory

John Frame’s commendation of John Piper’s latest book, ‘A Peculiar Glory – How the Christian Scriptures reveal their complete truthfulness’: A Peculiar Glory is a solid theological and exegetical treatment of biblical authority, but much more. Besides the standard arguments, Piper has developed (with the help of Jonathan Edwards) a profoundly original yet biblical approach to the question. It raises the traditional arguments to an exponential level of cogency. Piper says that our most definitive persuasion comes from actually seeing the glory of God in his Word. Theologians have traditionally called this the ‘internal testimony of the Holy Spirit,’ but that theological label does little justice to the experience, the awareness of the glory of God as we meet Jesus in Scripture. That really happens. It is astonishing and powerful. And it explains the difference between an observer’s merely theoretical faith and a true disciple’s delighted embrace of Christ. This doctrine of Scripture is worthy of the overall emphasis of

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The Lion is also the Lamb: A Reflection on what makes Jesus so Irresistibly Attractive

Sam Storms: What is it about Jesus that makes him worthy of your adoration and praise? What is it about Jesus that makes him irresistibly attractive? Why is he alone worthy of your whole-hearted allegiance and love? Consider one answer from the portrait of Jesus in Revelation 5. In Revelation 5:5 he is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” but in Revelation 5:6 is also portrayed as the “Lamb” who had been slain, though now standing, because alive. So, which is he? Both! Jesus is both Lion and Lamb. And it is in this glorious juxtaposition of what appear to be two contrasting images that we find the answer to our question. Think about this for a moment: The Lion in whom we find unimpeachable authority is also the Lamb who embodies humility and meekness in the highest degree. The Lion who wields power and strength that none can resist is also the Lamb who walked this earth

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Why Going to Church Does Not Make You a Christian

I am not a Christian because I attend church on Sunday. Neither are you. And neither is John Piper. This was a discovery Piper made in the opening pages of a book by C. S. Lewis. In God’s providence, a thin little blue book by the title of “The Weight of Glory” found its way into Piper’s life at age 23 (recently photographed, above). Here’s how he recounted the story in a 2015 sermon. John Piper: The second wave that broke over me in my 23rd year was the discovery that my desires were not too strong, but too weak. And the remedy for my early perplexity did not lie in getting rid of my desires, but on glutting them on God. That was revolutionary to me. Your problem, longing, aching, yearning, wanting, John Piper, is that you don’t yet want like you ought to want. I will come to you and I will put a fire under the fire

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Obedience is the Secret to Joy

  John Piper: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). So we have a great promise: He will give you the desires of your heart. And we have a command: Delight yourself in the Lord. The command is the condition of the promise. So delight yourself in me, God says, and I will satisfy your heart. Somebody asked me one time: Should you pursue joy or should you pursue obedience? And I said, “That is like saying, ‘Should you pursue apples or should you pursue fruit,’ because if you obey the command — Delight yourself in the Lord — you are pursuing joy and so obedience and joy can’t be contrasted like that.” We are called upon to delight ourselves in the Lord. And here is a big glitch for a lot of people. You can’t enjoy a God that you are not sure is for you. If you have

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Enjoying His Fullness

John Piper: From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16) Just before the service last Sunday, the little band of praying saints was hard at work fighting for the faith of our people and for the churches of the Twin Cities and for the nations as they prayed. At one point one man prayed the words of John 1:14–16: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. It was one of those epiphany moments for me. God granted in that moment that the word “fullness” — from his fullness — carry a fullness that was extraordinary in its effect on me. I felt some measure of what the word really carries — the fullness of Christ. I felt some of the

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What Is Discipleship and How Is It Done?

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus; what is discipleship? John Piper: A couple of observations about the word. The word discipleship never occurs in the Bible. The term is ambiguous in English. It can mean my discipleship in the sense of my own pattern of following Jesus and trusting him and learning from him. That is my discipleship. It could mean that. Or it can mean my activity of helping others be disciples in that sense of learning from him, growing in him. The second meaning — this helping others — does have a verb in New Testament Greek: mathetuo, to make disciples. It can mean preach the gospel so that people get converted to Christ and become Christians and, thus, disciples. For example, Acts 14:21says, “When they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium.” So that “make disciples” is one Greek word there and

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Can I Be Blotted from the Book of Life?

  Audio Transcript from Ask Pastor John Piper: Question: We have electronic mail from listener Charles Deyzel in South Africa. “Pastor John, I love listening to the podcast each day. Thank you. If I’m correct, the Bible mentions the phrase ‘the book of life’ about fourteen times, and quite a few of those passages mention getting blotted out of the book of life. How does this NOT mean losing your salvation?” What would you say Pastor John? Answer: When it comes to the doctrine of eternal security or perseverance of the saints, we need to speak with precision. And I think it is not quite precise to say, as Charles does, in quite a few of the Scriptures it mentions you can be blotted out of the book of life. I don’t think it ever says you can be blotted out, at least not in the sense that sometimes God does it. It says we will be blotted out if

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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

  John Piper: This translation of an anonymous Latin hymn doubles as a prayer for the first and second coming of Christ. It takes us into the mind of old Israel, longing for the first coming of the Messiah. And it goes beyond that longing by voicing the yearning of the church of Christ for the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to consummate the history of redemption. This makes the carol especially apt for Advent. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we put ourselves in the shoes of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, and all the pre-Christian saints. We ponder the promises. We strain to see the dawn of salvation. But we know that when it comes, the waiting will not be over. When Emmanuel arrives — when the Day-spring rises — we learn that redemption has only begun. To be sure, it is a magnificent only. The final blood is shed. The debt is paid. Forgiveness is purchased. God’s wrath is removed.

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John Piper: 20 Principles for How Christians Should Relate to Muslims (And Those of Other Religions)

Justin Taylor: John Piper’s August 2002 paper on “Tolerance, Truth-Telling, Violence, and Law: Principles for How Christians Should Relate to Those of Other Faiths” did not get a great deal of attention at the time (so far as I recall), but it remains just as relevant now as it did in the months following 9/11. It was originally prompted by the question of how Christians and Muslims should relate to each other. “This question,” Piper explains, “is part of the larger issue of how Christians are called to live in a pluralistic world. More specifically, how shall we as American Christians think and act with regard to freedom of religion in a pluralistic context defined by the ideals of representative democracy? In particular, how shall we bear witness to the supremacy of Christ in a world where powerful cultures and religions do not share the love of freedom or the ideals of democracy?” I’ve reproduced the principles below. 1. Whether approved

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You Are Not Enslaved to Your Past

John Piper: Christianity means change is possible. Deep, fundamental change. It is possible to become tender-hearted when once you were callous and insensitive. It is possible to stop being dominated by bitterness and anger. It is possible to become a loving person no matter what your background has been. The Bible assumes that God is the decisive factor in making us what we should be. With wonderful bluntness the Bible says, “Put away malice and be tenderhearted.” It does not say, “If you can . . . ” Or: “If your parents were tender-hearted to you . . . ” Or: “If you weren’t terribly wronged or abused . . . ” It says, “Be tender-hearted.” This is wonderfully freeing. It frees us from the terrible fatalism that says change is impossible. It frees us from mechanistic views that make our backgrounds our destinies. If I were in prison and Jesus walked into my cell and said, “Leave this place

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Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification

My thanks to Justin Taylor for this: John Piper’s foreword to Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification, by Thomas Schreiner: Knowing from James 2:26 that there is such a thing as dead faith; and from James 2:19 that there is such a thing as demonic faith; and from 1 Corinthians 15:2 that it is possible to believe in vain; and from Luke8:13 that one can “believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away;” and knowing that it is through faith that we are born again (1 John 5:1) and have eternal life (John 3:16, 36), therefore, surely we must conclude that the nature of faith, and its relationship to salvation, is of infinite importance. I use the word infinite carefully. I mean that, if we don’t have such faith, the consequences have infinite significance. Eternal life is an infinite thing. And thus the loss of it is an infinite thing. Therefore, any human concern that has only to do with this world, no matter how global, no matter how painful, no matter how enduring—if it has only to

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Watershed Differences Between Calvinists and Arminians

John Piper: Really helpful and careful summary: Audio Transcript: A listener to the podcast, Peter from Seattle, writes in: “Pastor John, what is the main difference between Calvinism and Arminianism? I’m trying to explain this difference to my 13-year-old son, and would love to boil it down to one or two watershed differences. What would those be?” Okay, I am going to give him more than he asked for. And then I am going to give him what he asked for, okay? I think it will be helpful for me to just walk through the so-called five points because these five points are what the Arminian Remonstrance in 1610 threw back at the Calvinists. The Calvinists didn’t come up with five points to start with. The Calvinists wrote their vision of what salvation looks like and how it happens under God’s sovereignty and when the Arminians read it, they said, “These are five places we don’t agree.” And that is

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Preaching As Expository Exultation

Expository means that preaching aims to exposit, or explain and apply, the meaning of the Bible. Every sermon explains and applies the Bible. The reason for this is that the Bible is God’s word, inspired, infallible, profitable—all sixty-six books of it. The preacher’s job is to minimize his own opinions and deliver the truth of God. Therefore, it is mainly Bible exposition—explanation and application. And the preacher’s job is to do that in a way that enables us to see that the points he is making actually come from the Bible. If they come from the Bible and you can’t see that they come from the Bible, your faith will rest on man and not God. The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest some biblical truth that will make your spiritual bones more like steel, and double the capacity of your spiritual lungs, and make the eyes of your heart dazzled with God’s greatness, and

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What Is Christian Hedonism?

John Piper: Over the years the name that I have given to my understanding of the massive role joy plays not only in the Christian life, but in all of creation and God’s purposes in it — is Christian Hedonism. And the shortest description of Christian Hedonism is God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. My pathway into this understanding over the last thirty years or so is mainly affected by Jonathan Edwards, C. S. Lewis, and the apostle Paul, but it does reach back to my father. My father was probably the happiest man I have ever known, and yet he was filled and consumed with the glory of God. So there was this both-and in my father’s life that had to have a resolution or explanation some day. Abundant joy and total commitment to the glory of God had to go together in some way. Small Desires for Big Things After my

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